MBOLE FIGURE 1, DRC

Photographs © Tim Hamill

MBOLE
Figure 1
27.5" high
$500

The Mbole are known principally for their figures known as ofika which tend to be categorized by their geometric features, elongated emaciated bodies, enlarged heads with heart-shaped faces, protruding mouths and crown-like coiffures. The shoulders and arms seem inert and uncontrolled.

Ofika figures represent men or women who were hanged for transgressing the moral and legal laws and were shown to youths during their initiation into the association to illustrate the consequence of immoral conduct and also to instill in them respect for the authority vested in elders and leaders. Ofika were displayed on other solemn occasions, such as executions, during periods of persistent bad hunting, when oaths were taken, and when serious conflicts between parties were settled. Each ofika bears the name of a hanged individual.

Despite its appearance this Mbole figure shows no evidence of age or use and was probably made to be sold.

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